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playing: detroit: become human

In the eighties and nineties, European directors such as Paul Verhoeven, Renny Harlin, Wolfgang Petersen, Roland Emmerich and Luc Besson fed the American moviegoing public a steady diet of amped-up outsider takes on pulpy Stateside action genres. Quantic Dream, the Parisian developer of Detroit: Become Human, approaches its interactive android thriller with comparable gusto, cribbing eagerly from A.I., I, Robot … that, uh, one androids show on AMC … with a bit of Minority Report spliced in for good measure. The result is clever, polished, invigorating, exploitative and immersive, coupled with Quantic Dream’s signature blend of sensationalism and naturalism (albeit fortunately devoid of the bad Saw/Se7en overtones that marred Heavy Rain). At its occasional worst, this game can be episodic and formulaic, but at its frequent best it’s visceral and surprisingly moving—with a climax that legitimately feels like being inside a big, summery, fun sci-fi popcorn movie from the mid-2000s. It’s also worth noting that the branching narrative is exceedingly ambitious, presenting the player with a dizzying array of choices that end up having real consequences, big and small, as the story builds.

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